It would be nice to think that a stage that halves the distance from the sea by the time it finishes would be a downhill stage. Well maybe the next one will: this brute has a real sting in the tail that will leave your legs screaming for a rest. But the really strange this about stage 441 is that for well over half of its duration, it’s a doddle. Even the gentle but lumpy ascent from halfway to seventeen miles is not that bad. It’s the next three miles that will do the damage.
The rollout from the top end of Lake Wanaka is gently downhill as it travels up the eastern side of the lake as route 6 makes its way to Makarora Township at three miles. It then picks up the line of the Makarora River which flows against the direction of travel back into Lake Wanaka.
The road sits in a flood plain and gently ascends all the way to Makarora itself at eight miles then as the hills close in from both sides, the road and the river converge ever closer. By the time the hills close in completely, the river and the road travel together as one, meandering their way up the valley side by side, the river to the right (east) of the road.
And basically, that’s where the fun starts. From eighteen miles, the hills swamp the road, especially on the left (west) side, resulting in a seven hundred foot climb in just over two miles. New Zealand has just bared its teeth (as if it hadn’t before). But amidst all of the pain, there’s finally some respite at twenty miles in the form of a two mile three hundred foot descent to the Fantail Falls which plays host to the finish.
Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres
Ascent: 1407 feet / 429 metres
RGT Magic Road: 0EmaGjUEWBaH
Max elevation: 1754 ft
Min elevation: 905 ft
Total climbing: 1406 ft
Total descent: -915 ft
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